I don’t own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Stargate. It should also be noted that I know next to nothing about neither the California Penal System, nor the intricacies of prisons that women go to as opposed to men. Please forgive any mistakes I make on this basis, though I welcome constructive criticism on it if someone feels I’ve committed a grievous faux pas. The song parody was created by me, but the original lyrics and the music of Frosty the Snowman are not mine.
CHRISTMAS IN THE LOCKUP
California Women’s Prison was not a happy place to spend Christmas. It is perhaps not because the prison was all that bad in the grand scheme of things; much the opposite, in fact. The prison, by the standards of such prisons, was actually quite humane and pleasant.
To a former street kid like Faith Lehane, whose mother was a junkie and whose father was a john, the place was damn near a paradise compared to some of the holes she’d lived in. It was a massive step up from that fleapit motel in Sunnydale, though it had less privacy. Still, Faith had lived in far more dangerous places and with far less privacy. So that was not what made the prison so unpleasant.
To a former soldier like Clare Tobias, who had to survive in a barracks with a dozen men while on her little offworld assignment that Jack O’Neill had cut brutally short, privacy was a relatively moot point. Certainly, the facilities at the prison weren’t really that bad, compared to what one often endured in the field.
No. What made the prison so incredibly painful to the two cellmates was not the prison itself. The problem was Christmas. Christmas was a time that both cellmates despised with a certain passion that could never be truly expressed in words.
For Faith, Christmas had been a time of bitter disappointments for as long as she could remember. Except for the single Christmas at Sunnydale, which had been nice enough, Faith had never really celebrated the holiday, preferring to hide from the men who fed her mother’s terrible habit. She’d never really gotten the chance for Christmas with Eleanor, her beloved Watcher. Besides, what did she have to look forward to in prison? All she’d ever gotten was the odd care package from Angel. Buffy hated her, Willow had always hated her, Wesley regarded her as a failure to be forgotten and Xander… Xander hated her too. And who could blame him? She’d done to him exactly what had been done to her, what she’d sworn that she’d never allow to be done to another living being for as long as she lived and had the strength to prevent it.
For Clare, Christmas had been a time of wonderful memories of times long past. The reason she hated Christmas was quite simple though. It was a remnant of a time she could never have again. Every member of her family served their country in the Armed Forces: Dad was a Naval Admiral; Mom was a Nurse on that same ship her father was assigned to, Jerry was an Army Sergeant who had been part of Initiative, whatever that meant. Now Jerry was dead, killed in circumstances too classified to discover, she was in prison, for reasons that were also too classified for her family to discover, and her parents believed her a traitor to her country thanks to that god-forsaken, holier-then-thou bastard O’Neill! What right did he have to judge her? But the question was irrelevant. The point remained that what little remained of her family despised her as a traitor to the family cause. Service over family, family over everything else.
It was, perhaps, a surprise to both when one of their names was called on Christmas Day.
The name was such a shock that Faith did not actually grasp the small package at first. “Over here!” she called out, catching the tossed package as it was flung in her direction by the passing mail-bearer.
Faith stared at the package in awe. She still couldn’t believe that someone had sent her something. It wasn’t even Angel. The address was one she didn’t recognise and the name on it was deliberately left off. Still, the handwriting was eerily familiar, tickling at her memory and teasing her mind, just out of reach.
Finally, Clare’s patience wore thin. “Are you finished staring at that thing? Open it before the wrapping decomposes around it…”
Faith glared playfully at her obviously irritated cellmate. “Did you say something, C?”
Clare stared at her for a long moment, just waiting. She knew by now that Faith would only wait longer if she tried to coerce her verbally and she had long since discovered that coercing Faith physically was beyond even her. She would be patient. The package was for Faith certainly but it might, at least, break up the damned monotony around the cell they shared.
Finally, seeing that Clare wasn’t rising to the bait, Faith gave in and began to open the package. She was perhaps only mildly surprised to find that it contained a Christmas gift, with wrapping paper and everything. Again there was no name, but something about the goofiness of the wrapping paper hinted at who it might be from.
Within the package, Faith found a wrapped Christmas ornament. It was a wooden one, certainly of good quality, but otherwise unremarkable to Clare. Perhaps that might explain Clare’s shock at seeing tears in the eyes of her cellmate. “What’s wrong, Faith?”
Faith wiped away her tears, desperately trying to recapture the tough street girl look she’d so carefully cultivated. Still, Clare was as good as family these days. “I thought he hated me.”
Clare’s expression did not clear. “Who hated you?”
“X-man… I… I treated him something awful. I even tried to kill him once. But he doesn’t hate me.”
Faith turned the wooden ornament over to show it off to Clare. Admittedly it was a nice piece of workmanship. It was an intricately carved Christmas angel with a broadsword in its hands. The broadsword itself was an odd choice for an angel to carry, but the inscription was odder still. “Fidem Serva… What does that mean?”
Faith gave Clare a watery smile. “It’s Latin. It means ‘Keep the Faith’. Only X would make such a corny joke.”
Clare shrugged, still not seeing why it seemed so special to Faith. Obviously the guy meant a lot to her, but the gift wasn’t that great. “So he had someone inscribe an angel ornament for you. That’s okay, I guess…” Clare tried to be supportive, but she still couldn’t understand.
Faith smirked secretively at Clare. “How many stores sell wooden ornaments representing angels that wield swords C?”
Clare considered for a long moment. “I’ve never seen them before, but so what? Is it expensive?”
Faith laughed merrily at the idea. “X, buy me something expensive? I like the guy well enough C, but his wallet is nearly as empty as mine. He couldn’t afford something expensive. No, X made this himself. He’s always been a decent carver. For him to make me this though…”
The ornament suddenly changed in Clare’s eyes. Sure, it’d been nice enough before, but now it seemed much more beautiful. The detailing was exquisite. Certainly it was not beyond the reach of manufacturing technology, but the effort it would take for a single carver to make such a detailed and delicate piece must have been immense, especially for a relatively young man who was fairly new to the craft. “It’s beautiful, Faith…”
Faith was not listening though. She was remembering Christmas in Sunnydale.
Xander, incredibly short on funds at the time, had not had the money to really give her a decent gift. Instead he decided to sing her his own personal version of Frosty the Snowman, a tale of a badass Frosty who he’d felt she might like to hear about. He’d horribly geeked it up, but it had still been kind of funny to her…
“Frosty the Snowman was an evil wicked soul
With a ruling ring and a magic wand, public mayhem was his goal
Frosty the Snowman; he was put in jail today
It was kept down low, but the children know why the cops locked him away
‘He must have been up to some trick,’ we heard those children speak
‘For when they placed him behind bars he began to smirk and sneak’
Frosty the Snowman was a-workin on his plan
And the convicts say this was his day, ‘That Frosty was the man!’
Frosty the Snowman knew the sun was hot that day
So he said ‘Make heat, that’ll be a treat, it’ll help me slip away’
Slipping through the bars, now; lost a pound or two he had
And he ran from there his voice a blare, taunting ‘Catch me if you can!’
He led the chase to outer space in a broken down old sloop
And he only paused a moment when the hyperdrive went poof!
Frosty the Snowman got it fixed in record time
And he said don’t cry and he told them why, ‘I’ll get nabbed another time!’
Hypedy-hype-hype hypedy hype! Look at Frosty run!
Hypedy-hype-hype hypedy hype! Slingshot around the sun!”
She could still feel the kiss he’d placed on her cheek before he’d left her that night. He’d been embarrassed by the quality of his Christmas gift to her and had confided in her his hatred of the season, a season that was nearly as bad for him as hers had been before she’d run away from home.
Faith allowed another tear to trickle down her cheek, ignoring whatever her cellmate was trying to say to her. Xander would likely never know, but that song and now this ornament were the two greatest Christmas gifts she’d ever gotten.
‘Keep the Faith.’ Faith smiled down at the ornament, representing at least one person who didn’t hate her other then Angel. ‘Keep the Faith. Okay X… You’ve got it. Merry Christmas, wherever you are. I love you…’
I hope I got the Latin right, but please understand that I was using an online translator. If I'm incorrect in my translation of the phrase 'Keep the Faith', please inform me and I'll fix it...
Hope you all enjoy my holiday effort...